China is set to build an offshore testing facility for unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) in waters around the Wanshan Archipelago in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province.

The test facilities will feature a 21.6km² phase one debugging test bed and a 750km² phase two performance test field.

The project is set to be jointly developed by the Zhuhai Municipal Government, the China Classification Society (CCS), Wuhan University of Technology, and Zhuhai Yunzhou Intelligence Technology (Yunzhou-Tech) as part of an agreement that was previously signed in December last year.

"The proposed test facility will be the first of its kind in Asia and will support the development of an advanced USV base."

It is expected include a series of internet devices, communications facilities and illuminations, which will be installed on designated islands and reefs.

The development will also feature navigational radars, automatic berthing piers and other ancillaries to facilitate the testing of USVs against various multi-scene and multi-dimensional backdrops.

Results from the tests are expected to provide performance data to help ships autonomously avoid obstacles during operation.

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They are also anticipated to enable collaborative formations, remote piloting and autonomous operations, as well as standing patrols and real-time communications.

According to the developers, the proposed test facility will be the first of its kind in Asia and will support the development of an advanced USV base that is capable of conducting research and development (R&D).

It will also be able to help create standards, conduct technical tests and certification, and carry out application demonstrations over the next three to five years.

Furthermore, the facility will offer provisions for exhibiting emerging technologies, products, business types, and operation models, among others.

The site is expected to carry out testing and inspection procedures in accordance with industry standards and regulations once it has received formal national accreditation.